Kitchen Towels

Ever since we have our own house hold, I was never satisfied with the quality of my kitchen towels because they were never enough absorbing. I actually have only one towel which I liked. I was always on a hunt for good towels but when I found a good quality towel it usually costs a lot. So instead of buying a highly priced towel, once again, I decided to make my own kitchen towels.
I kind of have a wired system for my kitchen towels: I always have three towels in use. One is for hand drying, one is for drying clean dishes (this is what I needed to sew) and one is  for everything else (wiping up stains from the kitchen counters, using them as a bib for the kids  etc.) . And the towels should match in color, too! I realize now that I might have OCD issues…

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Anyway, I went to our local fabric store and asked for help because I wasn’t able to choose a good absorbent fabric alone. The lady who works in the store always gave me good advice, so I trust her when it comes to fabric or sewing related problems. I bought the fabric she recommended, took it home, washed it, then sewed four kitchen towels from it.

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I wanted to try out a new thing, that I have never done before: it’s called “prairie points”. It’s a popular technique for finishing quilt edges and they look very lovely but since I’ve never done it before, I wanted to try it first on a smaller project. And it was a lot easier then I guessed. I just followed this great tutorial and the towel turned out very lovely, look!

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When I finished this project, I was very happy because my kitchen towel sets were finally complete but to be honest, this fabric is not at all more absorbent then the others I had. Quiet disappointing but I guess, this happens to all of us. We try our best to make our projects perfect but sometimes it doesn’t work out. Now I spent 12 € on fabric and my time on a project that looks amazing but doesn’t bring the quality I was hoping for.
Has this happened to any of you before that you only realized that your work is not good enough when you were done with it?

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Anyway, we can still use these towels in the household but I will keep hunting for the perfect kitchen towels until I find them. And I am willing to pay the pries for it…

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Kitchen Backsplash Makeover

When we moved into our new apartment about ten months ago I was shocked when the landlord said that the backslapsh in the kitchen is in acceptable condition and it doesn’t need to be replaced. In fact I was so much shocked that no word came out of my mouth and when a couple of minutes later I tried to argue with the guy, I already lost the battle.

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So we moved in but I decided on our first day that these tiles need some kind of a repair. First I tried to cover them with white adhesive but it wasn’t sturdy enough. After much consideration and a lot of research on the internet I decided that I will try painting the backsplash. It was unfortunately not a cheap solution but we were not allowed to replace the old tiles. Even if we were, the new kitchen cabinets were installed right away as we moved in and it wasn’t possible anymore.

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I had a couple of trips to local stores and finally decided to buy the primer, the paint, the brushes etc. But I was still so scared that I will screw up the whole project that all the supplies stayed in the wardrobe for a couple of months, until I had the courage one day and I finally started to clean the backsplash and the next day I continued and tried to fill up the little screw holes. I think the repairing of the holes could’ve been done better but again, this was a DIY job, I’m not a pro. At all.

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The third day the primer was up and there was no going back. I always painted late in the evening, when the kids were already in bed, so excuse the quality of the pictures.

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The forth day I painted the first layer, and the fifth day the second coat went on.

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I think the whole kitchen looks a LOT better then before but if I am being honest the result is far from perfection. When the painting was done, we finally were able to install a lamp above the sink and the light of it is so strong that it reveals all the mistakes on the surface. Of course, one can only see those if actually standing and cooking there (who is most of the time me) which is fine by me. I call it “rustic white”.

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So this is my backsplash makeover and after all I am satisfied with the end-result. I can most definitely live with this  kitchen for a couple more years. But if you ask me if I would do it again, my answer would be: “Um, not so sure…” I think it is a great temporary fix but in a more permanent home I would rather have perfect tiles on the wall.

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DUDERÖ Lamp Makeover

It was about six years ago when we first moved to Germany and we had to furnish our first apartment because here you only get the empty walls when you are renting. There are no light fixtures and in most cases you even have to bring your own kitchen cabinets and in some cases you have to install your own floors. The reason for this is that in most areas there are fewer apartments then potential tenants and it means the landlords dictate and create the conditions and if you disagree, they will easily find someone else instead of you.
My point is that at the beginning of our journey in Germany we had little money and we didn’t plan to stay here as long as we actually did, so we purchased a lot of cheap furnishing, including our DUDERÖ floor lamp from IKEA. I think the price was about ten euros and we kind of liked the design of it but unfortunately the lampshade was made out of paper and as kid Nr1. started to crawl it was game over for the lamp. However I did manage to save the top of the lampshade: I cut it shorter, added a blue lace to the bottom and used the lamp beside my old sewing desk. After some time this lampshade started to give up as well and I had to think about its future.

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We liked the first lamp but there was no way I could re-create the original design and I didn’t want to either spend money on it or just throw it away. I don’t remember how exactly but I came up with the idea of weaving a basket-kind-of-lampshade from the branches of a willow tree.
When I was about eight years old I took a couple of weaving lessons but other then that I had no clue how to start this project. I looked up tutorial videos and the most important thing that I learned is that those branches must be wet otherwise they will brake during weaving. Ok, I could not order the basket willows that pros use, so I went with my kids and cut a handful branches from a willow tree near the kindergarten, went home and used them till they were still fresh. This was my first batch:

DSC_0138I used the two metal rings which came originally with the lampshade and then I just tried a few things and let the project lead me. I really had no clue what I was doing but it didn’t stop me. Even my Husband gave me doubtful looks which made me even more determined: “I must make something nice out of this!”

DSC_0139I started on top and then slowly moved down with the weaving.

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Yeah, at this point I also thought that this project was a complete disaster and if so, why should I give up? Why not try and make it a little further.

DSC_0161With some tape I attached the other ring to the stand: this is where the future lampshade should have its bottom.

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I weaved the side-willows to the bottom-ring and suddenly I started to have hope again! Look how cool it actually looked at this point:

DSC_0167And I already ran out of willow, so I had to take an other round at the tree. And an other, and an other…. But eventually the new lampshade was done and I am very proud of it!

DSC_0662Doesn’t it look awesome? Of course, you can tell it is made by an amateur but who cares? I love it. Even my Husband finds it great especially because it kind of looks like a bee hive and he is in love with bees.
The lamp did move with us and found its new place beside our hammock and blanket basket in the living room.

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My Happy Place

I thought I would show you my craft corner where all the magic happens. Are you curious?
When we last year moved to a slightly bigger apartment I was very happy because finally I was able to store all my sewing and craft supply in one place. Previously I had a huge bag in the bedroom, a couple of boxes in the kids’ room etc. But now I have a whole corner in the living room! I know it is still not a studio, not even a separate “office” or “craft room” but I am very pleased and it is truly my happy place! Come and have a look!

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This is all: a sewing table, a shelf and an other shelf which used to be the kitchen island in our previous kitchen. Now it functions as my fabric storage. I hand sewed the curtains when my sewing machine was broken. I think they are absolutely necessary because this craft corner is in the living room, so it has to stay organized and the curtains help me hide the mess I make…

DSC_3140I also have small boxes and drawers for buttons, zippers, velcro, needles etc. I love them, they are always at hand and I  can reach them from the sewing table.

DSC_3141I have a small garbage can on the right end of the table, little more hanging storage (originally planters but I found them more useful if I keep ribbons and other small sewing supplies in them). The info-board has two purposes: one is to hold all the important phone numbers visible at all times (like doctors, babysitter etc.), the other is to keep my ideas, lists, calendar.

I also have a ironing board stored behind our book case that I can set up any time I need it, there is enough space for it next to the couch.

DSC_3142A cutting board, the iron and a tray have their place on the “island”. I always store the fabrics and other little pieces, notes of the running project on the tray. But when the project is huge, it takes over the whole shelf and sometimes even the couch next to it…

DSC_3146I find the wall lamp absolutely necessary above the sewing desk because the windows are behind me when I am sewing but I love the fact that this lamp looks actually awesome. Great design!

 

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The little painting is a reproduction of a grandiose work of art in the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA): The Nut Gatherers (1882) by William Adolphe Bouguereau. I used to go to that museum every week when we lived in Detroit and this was my all time favorite painting there. I can’t say why but I just love it. Maybe because it is so peaceful. Anyway, it makes my happy place just complete and perfect.

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Please, show me how your creative space looks like!

IKEA-Hacks in the hallway

It has been already six months since we moved in to our new apartment and a couple of things are still unfinished but one thing is done: our entry way/ hallway! I am very happy about that and also proud of it because everything works well in this room.

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What we absolutely love about the hallway that it is not in the middle of the apartment as it was in our previous place. We can take off the shoes and I don’t have to worry about our crawling baby playing with the dirty shoes or crawling through the mud on the floor. Although the entry way is still not completely out of the way and he sometimes does find the shoes very fascinating but luckily it doesn’t happen very often. So that’s already a big improvement for us.

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The other thing is that we needed a lot more space for our coats and we got it: I made two coat racks for us using IKEA shelf consoles (EKBY VALTER), some laths from the local “Home Depot” (Bauhaus/OBI) and a couple of hooks, also from IKEA (SVARTSJÖN). The smaller version now serves the kids and the bigger one is ours and for our guests. I also decorated the bigger coat rack by burning three flowers onto it following old traditional embroidery patterns from Hungary. Just a little touch of our background.

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The kids also got a bench. I actually wanted to buy a tiny bench for them but then we realized that we had this great hanging wardrobe from our previous apartment which we didn’t want to use anymore, so we just took that and put it on the floor. It’s also from IKEA and called GREVBÄCK.

The standing shelf is also from IKEA, called MOLGER and is originally a part of a bathroom series. The mirror is an older piece from IKEA, which they don’t sell anymore. You might wonder if we are crazy about IKEA or what is the reason for us to buy so many furniture from that store. Well, in Aachen there are other furniture stores, some of them offer a better quality and a lot higher price, others offer lower prices but also lower quality. There is nothing else in between. Those who know IKEA products, can tell, that most of their furniture are functional and last for 5-10 years. If you don’t plan to use them longer, then you’ll most likely be satisfied. Plus we also love assembling furniture!DSC_2033

I was searching for a good place in our home that we could use as art display for the kids, so I hang a string on the wall for a kids art gallery and we love it ever since.

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There was a huge built-in-wardrobe in the hallway as we moved in. We could to decide if wanted to keep it or have it removed but we kept it, although it looks very outdated and it is as old, as the building (about thirty years old) but as I said, it is huge and can hide so many thing like the vacuum cleaner, suitcases and more.

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An old chair also landed in the hallway. Originally I decorated it for the nursery but there was no need for it there anymore and it is perfect for putting on the shoes.
Hallelujah! Our entry way is done: looks nice and functions well.
How you deal with the muddy shoes if you live in an apartment and can’t leave them outside? I would be glad to hear your ideas!